By: Emily Finlay
The pandemic that hit in 2020 forced many companies to shift to remote work, and leading them to move most, if not all, of their business processes online.
Though Microsoft Teams focuses primarily on communication, its various features include many ways to streamline daily activities. Users can use the tool to communicate and collaborate through various means, including calls and chat.
They can also share files and data links to keep everyone up -to -date on new information and changes. All of these features help simplify project management for remote teams, enabling employees to stay on top of project statuses and needs.
While Microsoft Teams keeps workers connected and informed, it doesn’t fulfill all project management requirements. For example, it lacks an easy way to visualize plans, build out tasks and add details, or review project progress.
Luckily, Microsoft Teams integrates with numerous third-party applications that help expand its capabilities.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best Microsoft Teams project management applications you can use to help your team become more organized, productive, and efficient.
1. Task management applications
Keeping track of ongoing tasks is one of the most important parts of project management. You can use the built-in communication and calendar tools within Microsoft Teams to see if workers are meeting deadlines, but there are more comprehensive options available.
Apps such as Todoist and Tasks are designed to make task creation easier. Instead of opening your project management tool to start a new assignment, you can create a task right from the Microsoft Teams chat tool.
When discussing a new task for a project, you can simply right-click on the message to add a new task to the application or to your Gmail or Outlook inbox. You can then add users to the task and check it off when the work is completed.
All tasks created from a Microsoft Teams chat also link back to that conversation to provide context and any additional information. This saves everyone time by capturing the conversation so others can review the context on their own time, so you don’t have to fill in anyone who wasn’t part of the initial conversation.
In this way, task management applications can help you quickly adapt to new project needs without impacting your team’s momentum.
2. Note-taking applications
When you have a group of people collaborating on a project, you can expect to hold several meetings. These meetings may cover a lot of information, so it’s helpful to take good notes during these discussions.
Maintaining good meeting- records is especially important for remote or hybrid teams, since attendees in different time zones may not be able to attend every meeting.
Using a note-taking tool such as Evernote allows you to keep an easily accessible record of everything you’ve discussed.
Whenever someone has a question about a topic covered in a previous meeting, that person can quickly search quickly for the answer or necessary file directly within the tool.
You can also share personal notes, such as those taken during one-on-one conversations or jotted down in your free time.
Another application, Zoho Notebook, allows you to create, view, and update notes and notebooks, search notes, set reminders, and link related notes together.
You can also change the colors of note cards, view them in landscape or grid views, and even lock notebooks and notes with a passcode to secure them.
3. Methodology-specific project management applications
There are many different ways to run business projects. If your team relies on a specific project management methodology, look for an application that’s designed to enable that process.
Using tools that enhance your existing project management methodology can help maintain momentum and minimize workflow disruptions.
If your team uses the Kanban method, for example, you’ll likely want an application that organizes your tasks and progress using Kanban boards. Examples include Trello, Asana, and ClickUp, all of which use Kanban-style cards and columns to sort tasks.
You can create, share, and edit boards created using these applications within Microsoft Teams, making it easy to keep track of your progress.
Another common project management technique is the waterfall methodology. Applications such as Monday.com and Wrike provide Gantt chart and list templates to help you get and stay organized. They also allow you monitor your team’s progress and make simple adjustments on the fly.
Because these applications integrate directly with Microsoft Teams, you can alert colleagues to new assignments, requests, or updates by tagging them in the tool.
Depending on the application used, you may also be able to share previews and links to projects in your chats.
4. Comprehensive project management applications
Though you may think of project management as simply managing tasks and project schedules, those are far from the only elements companies have to track.
For example, if you’re working with an independent contractor or third-party vendor, you may be in charge of tracking their costs and expenses. This type of project management typically requires a more comprehensive tool to perform these tasks effectively.
The seamless integration of these application with Microsoft Teams allows you to view this information within the Microsoft Teams platform, empowering you to act quickly if you have a question or concern.
For example, if you see an expense you didn’t authorize, you can easily click the chat tab to start a conversation with the vendor it’s associated with to clarify the charge.
Or, if you notice that someone is logging a lot of hours without producing the amount of work you’d expect, you can reach out to them directly—without having to toggle between tools.
5. Visual communication applications
An Economist report discovered that 50% of employees prefer visual-based tools, such as whiteboards or sketchpads, over simply discussing information.
When managing a remote team, however, there isn’t always a good way to use these tools during a video conference or Microsoft Teams meeting.
When holding a Microsoft Teams meeting, you can use these applications to create visual diagrams directly within the shared screen so every participant can view and even edit it in real -time to add any missing information.
Your team can use MURAL like a digital whiteboard. You can use the tool to sketch out illustrations that better communicate your data. Users can also leave virtual sticky notes on your designs to add comments, provide more information, or color code that section.
MindManager takes a more structured approach. Rather than simply writing or drawing across a blank space, you can create mind maps, and use the tool’s shapes, text boxes, and other features to illustrate the idea, project, or meeting you’re planning.
Once you’ve created a mind map, you can link to or attach relevant information stored within Microsoft Teams, such as spreadsheets, appointments from Outlook, files saved in your shared storage, and website links.
Colleagues can also tag other users in tasks or comments within MindManager to alert them of updates. Your mind map can thus serve as a centralized hub for a project, providing everyone with the information they need to refer back to.
Visual communication tools, such as mind maps, offer a multitude of ways to organize and/or share information. You can use MindManager to:
- Build a mind map to capture and organize the ideas generated during a brainstorming session.
- Create a step-by-step plan that visualizes an entire project, including tasks that can then be assigned to specific team members.
- Expand project information in maps to include notes about budgets, deadlines, meetings, and other relevant information.
As you can see, integrating mind maps and other visualization applications with Microsoft Teams enables you to improve your project management abilities in multiple different ways.
You can better organize your workloads and manage your time, all while creating greater visibility into every step of your most important projects.